The Eagles opened the second half by doing what they do best -- shoving the ball down opponent's throats. South Putnam put together an 11-play drive, which ended with a Drew Cash eight-yard run to bring the Eagles within two points at 14-12. Head coach Troy Burgess said he knew that coming out of the break, it was time to make something happen.
"I think it goes back to the first drive. We took the first drive to start the second half and went down and scored. That was a big drive for us to go right down there. We said at half time that this was make or break. What are we going to do? Can we line up and play our style of football and again, I think because of our schedule, we were prepared for that and our kids up from... man, did they go a great job or what?," he said.
South Vermillion added another score to lead 22-12 going into the final quarter. That is when the Eagles began to lick their chops.
Again, South Putnam mowed through the Wildcats, with Cash scoring a nine-yard touchdown with 8:35 on the clock, pulling the Eagles within three points at 22-19. The intensity level of the Eagles squad grew tenfold and now they had the Wildcats backpedaling.
After a South Vermillion three and out, South Putnam went to their workhorse Cash and watched as he rattled off a brutal 30-yard run to take the lead 26-22 with 6:03 remaining. But the Eagles weren't done just yet.
With 2:08 remaining, South Putnam faced a fourth and eight at the 21 yardline. Instead of dishing it to Cash, Grant Zimmerman found Cameron Chestnut down the middle for the score, giving South all the cushion they would need at 33-22. South Vermillion added a score, but it wasn't enough to take down the Eagles.
Burgess raved about his team's final score following the contest.
"(That was) a huge touchdown at the end. Great pass blocking, a great pass from Grant Zimmerman and Cameron's done what Cameron's done all year. He just went up and took it away and made a great play for us," he said.
Cash rushed for 212 yards on 34 carries and scored four touchdowns for the Eagles. Playing both sides of the ball, Cash never left the field and seemed to only get stronger as the night progressed.
"Drew Cash is like a heavyweight fighter," Burgess explained. "It's like he just gets stronger, the more carries he gets, he gets stronger and stronger and that says something about his conditioning."
Junior Brayden Freeman was knocked out of the game with an apparent concussion, but senior Matt Huck stepped in and provided some crushing blocks from the backfield to lead Cash.
"Brayden Freeman played a great game, but, we think, got a little bit of a concussion there, but what about Matt Huck?," Burgess commented. "We put him in the backfield, he asked 'What do I do' and we tell him to just go and we'll tell you where to run and man, he motored back there."
Burgess credited the teams and conference his team plays in with being a huge factor in the outcome of Friday's contest. South Vermilion came in at 8-1, but Burgess felt that when they began to lose some steam, his Eagles were still going strong.
"I told our kids all week long, we play a tough schedule and no disrespect to anybody, but our schedule prepares us for this," he acknowledged. "Week in and week out, our conference, from top to bottom, is physical, they're good, they're well coached and that's what prepared us for this game."
Up next for the Eagles will be a rematch with Monrovia. South Putnam struggled with the Bulldogs in the initial meeting, but Burgess thinks things will be different this time around. He explained that they were prepared in their first encounter, but missed assignments held them back. That is something he is looking for his team to remedy this time around.
South Putnam will travel to Monrovia at 7 p.m. Friday.
At South Putnam
Sectional No. 30 Football
S. Vermillion 6 8 8 6 -- 28
S. Putnam 6 0 6 21 -- 33
SV -- Walsh 22 yd. pass to Mumaw (kick block) 7:30
SP -- Cash 9 yd. run (kick blocked)
SV -- Walsh 9 yd. run (conversion failed) 5:00
SP -- Cash 8 yd. run (conversion failed) 6:50
SV -- Walsh 6 yd. run (conversion good) 2:45
SP -- Cash 9 yd. run (Gould kick) 8:35
SP -- Cash 30 yd. run (Gould kick) 6:03
SP -- Zimmerman 21 yd pass to Chestnut (Gould kick) 2:08
SV -- Walsh 10 yd. pass to Harpenau (conversion failed) 1:09
Rushing -- Cash 34-212 4 TD, Nichols7-39, Freeman 2-23, Smith 1-(-3)
Passing -- Zimmerman 2-6-1-0 40 yds. TD
Receiving -- Chestnut 2-40 TD
Rushing -- Walsh 14-92 2 TD, Alfke 12-52, Craigmyle 5-20, Hoggatt 2-(-4)
Passing -- Walsh 14-28-2-0 189 yards 2TD
Receiving -- Harpenau 7-105 TD, Mumaw 2-17 TD, Laswell 2-17, Craigmyle 2-20, #6 1-9
Next game -- South Putnam will travel to Monrovia at 7 p.m. Friday.